Tag Archives: listen

Are You Really Listening?

I often talk about the importance of listening to our children—really paying attention to what they are saying and doing—so that we learn how to “read between the lines” of their behavior and are better able to interpret what they say and do. When we understand our children, we take their words and behavior much less personally, have more empathy, and thus can respond rather than react.

I am reading T. Berry Brazelton’s memoir, “Learning to Listen”. If you don’t know who Brazelton is—you should. You probably have heard of Dr. Spock the pediatrician from the 50’s and 60’s who did a lot to change the way we look at parenting. Brazelton is the Spock of the 70’s thru now. He’s 95 and still going! He has written a ton of books and has the best knowledge and advice for parents of anyone I know. He has spent a lifetime learning about who babies are and what each one is telling his parents.

When he was in medical school in the early 1900’s, he was disillusioned and disheartened by the profession’s focus only on medicine and never on the patient. He since has worked hard to include child development in the training of young pediatricians. Brazelton did have one teacher, however, who changed his life.

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Doubt: It’s Pros and Cons

Doubt is something that drives us nuts as parents but can both serve us and undermine us. If you didn’t doubt what you were doing as a parent, you wouldn’t be a conscious parent. We all know parents who know what is right and what is wrong and nothing moves them from that mark. Many of us had a parent like that. It’s no fun. Doubt keeps you alive and wondering. Doubt keep you growing and learning as a parent. You would be a robot without it. That said, doubt can also cause immobilizing fear when it is so loud that we question everything we do. When you have been brought up to believe that everyone else is right and you are wrong, doubt looms largely over ever action and decision. It can leave you disarmed in relationship with your child, who has an easy target and can wear you down quickly with arguments and demands. But doubt can be your friend and if you see it this way, you may not get so stuck with it. What you want to go for is what feels right inside you, not what “everyone” is telling you is right. Practice listening to your gut feelings and try going with them. When something sounds or looks right because so many others say so, be willing to question your assumptions and your friends and relatives if it feels wrong. The best parenting comes from focusing on the quality of the relationship you have with your child. Relationship is different with every person you are in relationship with. It will be a strong relationship that your child learns the most from and is influenced by. So that relationship needs to be built on what feels right.

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